Material Flow How® in action at Tata Steel, Kalinganagar
Pesmel, Finland’s fifth largest exporter to India, is in the process of delivering a state-of-theart automated coil storage and retrieval system to Tata Steel’s new 2.2Mt/yr cold rolling mill at Kalinganagar. The order represents one of the largest projects the company has undertaken and is regarded as the first of its kind in India.
We are delighted that Tata Steel Kalinganagar had fully embraced the world of Industry 4.0 – the fourth industrial revolution – and would be using it to achieve maximum steel output with minimal carbon footprint. Tata Steel’s state–of-the-art steel mill, located in Kalinganagar, Duburi, Odisha on India’s eastern coast, is pushing the boundaries and using high-tech production and storage techniques to serve the environment and achieve greater plant efficiencies. Last year, Tata Steel Kalinganagar not only celebrated its fourth anniversary, it also became the first and only Indian manufacturing facility to be recognised by the World Economic Forum, becoming one of 44 ‘Manufacturing Lighthouses’ globally recognised for showing leadership in Industry 4.0.
The Kalinganagar mill is part of the massive 27.5Mt/yr Tata Steel empire, which operates manufacturing sites in 26 countries, employs over 80,000 people and produces a wide variety of products including iron, soft iron, cast iron, alloy steel, bearings, pipe and precision tubes. Tata Steel recently embarked upon a 6 million tons (3 Mt+3Mt) expansion program at Kalinganagar including the development of a state-of-the-art 2.2Mt/yr cold rolling mill (CRM) complex producing steel coils correspondingly in the first phase.
In keeping with its hi-tech credentials the new CRM will incorporate three automated coil storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), one Yard Management System (YMS) and two automated robotic coil packaging lines, all supplied by Pesmel, Finland’s fifth largest exporter to India in 2019.
The Kalinganagar project is one of the largest orders Pesmel has received and it is unique in India. “This type of line configuration with automated storage retrieval system and automatic robotic packing line is the first one in India,” excitedly remarks Pesmel’s Vice President, Metals, Juha Suksi.
Pesmel’s involvement with Tata Steel Kalinganagar’s new CRM is rooted in a long-term and close commercial relationship between the two companies, and their shared belief in the power of automation as a means of achieving ultra plant efficiency and safety. “Tata was aware of our in-depth knowledge of the Kalinganagar plant and on modern logistics with automation and chose us to design, configure and build the entire automated storage and retrieval system for them, which we are executing in collaboration with their very co-operative project team,” states Managing Director of Pesmel India, Jagannathan Rajagopalan.
Having an automated in-plant logistics and storage system is nothing new for Tata Steel Kalinganagar. Handling coils automatically is far better an option always, and especially during this highly contagious pandemic situation, assuring total safety and the benefits of virtually manless operation are clear.
Automated Material Flow
Pesmel’s automated storage and retrieval system needs just one operator per packing line, according to Suksi, and invariably that person will be the line supervisor. This is where the company’s proprietary Material Flow How® technology concept comes into play. Material Flow How, the concept illustrating Pesmel’s way of harnessing the potential of Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing, has always been Pesmel’s core competence and primary focus; its strength lies in its uniqueness and the fact that all installations are custom-built accordingly.
The Material Flow How concept digitalizes the logistic chains at the mills. It is an intelligent solution that reduces cycle times and the utilisation of main process lines by automating logistics. This gives full control over material flow between raw material, semi-finished and finished production processes including shipping.
Automated storing and retrieval of coils
The scope of the Kalinganagar project includes the supply of three automated storage retrieval systems (ASRS) based on coil cars and stacker crane arrangement. They transfer steel coils from the mill’s Coupled Pickling Line and Tandem Cold Rolling Mill (PLTCM) line towards annealing, galvanising and, as required, recoiling lines and then to packaging, storage and onward shipping.
The ASRS1 acts as a storage for PLTCM coils. These coils would be further fed to the processing lines: Continuous Annealing Line (CAL) and two Continuous Galvanizing Lines (CGL). ASRS 2 and ASRS3 transfer and receive coils from the plant’s CAL
and GCL and also transfer and receive coils to and from Recoiling Lines (RCL) and packing lines.
Automated coil cars and stacker cranes are responsible for the storage and retrieval of coils from three high-bay storage areas. Special tracks are positioned below floor level, enabling the coil cars to service the lower level of the storage bays, leaving all levels to the stacker cranes.
The entire automated in-plant logistics and storage system at Kalinganagar is protected by what Pesmel calls ‘full redundancy’. “It means that if one stacker crane in the storage system is under maintenance, the second one could do all the needed tasks. “We have two stacker cranes on each high-bay storage unit. In the same way the coil car system also has redundancy,” confirms Suksi.
Warehouse Management System
The entire system – logistics, storage and packaging – is controlled by Pesmel’s Warehouse Management System (WMS), the heart of the configuration which tracks and tasks the coils from arrival to departure. There is also a Yard Management System (YMS) in place for coils stored at ground level.
With integrated WMS and YMS the various functions contained within the mill are integrated into one logistical entity. A state-ofthe-art mill also needs a modern control structure. “We are able to integrate all levels of production and logistics control, from electrification to automation, monitoring, material flow planning & management and logistics into one full chain, comprehensive platform” concludes Marko Nousiainen, COO of Pesmel Corporation.
In addition to three automated ASRS storage facilities with logistics, the Tata contract includes two coil-packing lines for Continuous Annealed (CRCA) and Continuous Hot Dip Galvanized (Coated) coils. These lines can handle coils with a width of between 800 mm to 1 900 mm, an outer diameter of 800 mm to 2 200 mm and weight up to 45 metric tons.
The packing lines feature an impressive automated ‘through-eye’ packaging system that wraps crepe / VCI (volatile corrosion inhibitor) paper around the coil to protect against unwanted moisture, dust and oxygen and eliminate the risk of rust. The term ‘through-eye’ relates to the eye of the coil through which the packaging materials are fed automatically based on coil dimensions and packing code. An automatic overhead 12-roll spool changing system and a 12-spool carousel magazine enable long periods of operation without the need to replenish during wrapping, meaning no need for additional downtime.
There are seven robots with six to seven axes operating and managing the entire packing operation configuring it as a state-of-the-art automatic packing line. Automated inner diameter (ID) and outer diameter (OD) body wrapping, side disc, ID and OD corner protection machines feed the correct amount of packaging material to the coil, providing essential mechanical protection. Systems for strapping, labelling and label reading are also part of Pesmel’s delivery to Tata Steel Kalinganagar.
Automation with in-situ preparation of packing materials enables optimal usage of materials according to coils size and packing philosophy, providing significant savings in material costs. Where timelines are concerned, the packing lines are tested in Finland prior to shipping to Kalinganagar. “Testing the line in our own workshop will shorten the commissioning time at the customer’s premises,” states Suksi adding that if any modifications are required, it’s quicker and easier to make changes in the workshop.